Insight

Elections Dustup

Two election security bills working their way through the Texas House and Senate are creating divisions within the Texas GOP and meeting stiff opposition from many who view them as voter suppression.

Elections Dustup
RS

Rachel Shrewsbury

June 22, 2021 12:00 AM

This was originally published in our 2021 Texas Best Lawyers publication on June 17, 2021.

Texas is still feeling many of the aftereffects of 2020—especially stemming from the last election where our two-party political system is colliding on the topic of voting. For Democrats and left-leaning groups, Texas House Bill 6 and Texas Senate Bill 7 are viewed as threats to voting rights, particularly for historically marginalized Texans. They see it as an unnecessary government imposition in a state with already strict voting laws. For Republicans, especially those who have concerns about election fairness and integrity, the legislation represents greater security and increased penalties for anyone engaged in unlawful voting or registration.

Here is an overview of what is in these bills and how things are shaking out in the early phases.

TEXAS HOUSE BILL 6

This bill by Republican state Rep. Briscoe Cain, and being advanced by House Republicans, attempts to beef up election rules. It begins as follows:

It is the intent of the legislature that the application of this code and the conduct of elections shall be uniform and consistent throughout this state to reduce the likelihood of fraud in the conduct of elections.

The bill would set up new requirements for those assisting voters with disabilities or non-English speakers. It would also create stiff penalties for ballot harvesting activities, for election officials who violate new rules in the bill, or for anyone providing early voting and balloting materials to a person who did not submit an application for a vote by mail ballot. This includes anyone soliciting the submission of an application to vote by mail and distributing an application to vote by mail.

Critics of the bill have argued that the bill would disenfranchise racial and ethnic communities in Texas who might be more likely to require voter assistance. They point out that the bill makes the voting process for Texans with disabilities far more complicated and could possibly violate the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. There is concern too over the criminal laws related to election officials—including making it a felony to distribute unsolicited early voting ballots.

TEXAS SENATE BILL 7

Similar to House Bill 6, Senate Bill 7 is largely a response by Republicans to the voting initiatives that were taking place in Harris County during the 2020 election. Senate bill 7 would expand early voting hours in populations over 30,000 (currently 100,000). It also shifts voting hours, including a 12-hour cap on how long early voting can take place during the week.

Because of the lack of a public hearing, they have concerns that the controversial points in the original bill could return without the public having a voice in the matter."

Further, the bill outlaws drive through voting and requires voters to vote in a building as specified by current law. It also targets the number of polling locations using a formula that relies on the number of registered voters in each district—which could reduce the number of polling locations for majority Democrat communities. Like House Bill 6, Senate Bill 7 sets rules in place for vote by mail, expanding access for poll watchers, and greater security around vote ballot tracking and surveillance.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Currently the Texas House elections committee re-worked Senate Bill 7 and replaced much of the language with portions of House Bill 6—leading to quite a bit of division between Texas House and Senate Republicans. Meanwhile House Democrats on the committee are objecting on several grounds, mostly related to voting rights and especially around the lack of a public hearing, which occurred for House Bill 6 but is not expected to happen for Senate Bill 7. Because of the lack of a public hearing, they have concerns that the controversial points in the original bill could return without the public having a voice in the matter.

If the rewritten bill is approved by the House, it will go to a conference committee to be hashed out between the two chambers. But only time will tell what will land on the governor’s desk.

Related Articles

Time to Vote?


by Janice Zhou

With the presidential election right around the corner, the right to vote is more important than ever. For some, there are obstacles to exercising their constitutional right.

Woman holding up an I Voted sticker

Getting Schooled


by Janice Zhou

Public-education policy is fraught throughout the United States, and Texas is certainly no different. Two leading education lawyers weigh in on accountability, resource inequities, and why “teaching to the test” has been a bad deal for kids.

Public Education Issues and Reform

ESG Changing Texas’ Legal Landscape


by Gregory Sirico

Best Lawyers breaks down the growing industry trend of ESG standards and how its altering the field of law in the state of Texas.

Texas’ Ever Changing Legal Landscape

New York In the Law


by Gregory Sirico

Courts in the New York area have continued to hear cases, many of them years-long battles that are still ongoing. Here is a look at some recent court cases.

New York In the Law

Southern California in the Law


by Gregory Sirico

Courts in Southern California have continued to hear cases, many of them years-long battles that are still ongoing. Here is a look at some recent court cases in Southern California.

Southern California in the Law

South Florida In the Law


by Gregory Sirico

Courts in South Florida have continued to hear cases, many of them years-long battles that are still ongoing. Here is a look at some recent court cases in South Florida.

South Florida In the Law

Northern California In the Law


by Gregory Sirico

We explore three legal cases in Northern California.

Northern California In the Law

Tampa In the Law


by Gregory Sirico

We explore three legal cases in Tampa.

Tampa In the Law

Midwest In the Law


by Gregory Sirico

We examine five court cases that are ongoing in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota and Indiana.

A Look at Court Cases in the Midwest

Washington, D.C. In the Law


by Gregory Sirico

We explore three legal cases in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. In the Law

America’s Favorite Pastime: The Talk of the Town and the Courtroom


by MaKenli Ladd

Major League Baseball's disapproval of new voting legislation in Georgia is facing harsh criticism after they opted to move out of the state.

MLB Moves Out of Georgia After Voting Law

Summer Voting Season Is Here!


by Best Lawyers

Summer 2021 voting is open to all lawyers listed in Best Lawyers in Chile, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa and Spain.

How To Vote On Your Best Lawyers Ballot

Nikelle Meade – Texas 2021 Lawyer of the Year


by Best Lawyers

Land Use and Zoning Law Austin, TX

Texas 2021 Lawyer of the Year

A Trial Icon Joins a Legal Powerhouse


by John Fields

Dan Cogdell on moving his renowned criminal defense practice to Jones Walker LLP.

A Trial Icon Joins a Legal Powerhouse

Exceptional Advocacy


by Justin Smulison

Two-time Personal Injury “Lawyer of the Year”, Daniel J.T. Sciano, reflects on the uniqueness and successes of his 40th year as one of San Antonio’s top litigators

Exceptional Advocacy

Winning for His Clients Amid a Pandemic


by John Fields

Best Lawyers®* Listed Attorney Joseph Brophy on achieving success in 2020.

Winning for His Clients Amid a Pandemic

Trending Articles

The Real Camille: An Interview with Johnny Depp’s Lawyer Camille Vasquez


by Rebecca Blackwell

Camille Vasquez, a young lawyer at Brown Rudnick, sat down with Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer to talk about her distinguished career, recently being named partner and what comes next for her.

Camille Vasquez in office

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Famous Songs Unprotected by Copyright Could Mean Royalties for Some


by Michael B. Fein

A guide to navigating copyright claims on famous songs.

Can I Sing "Happy Birthday" in Public?

Why Cariola Díez Pérez-Cotapos Developed Its Own Legal Tech


by Best Lawyers

Juan Pablo Matus of Cariola Díez Pérez-Cotapos, 2019 "Law Firm of the Year" award for Corporate and M&A Law in Chile, discusses his firm's joint venture with Cognitiva in creating Lexnova, a legal AI system.

Cariola Díez Pérez-Cotapos Interview

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard: The Best Lawyers Honorees Behind the Litigation


by Gregory Sirico

Best Lawyers takes a look at the recognized legal talent representing Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in their ongoing defamation trial.

Lawyers for Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

Choosing a Title Company: What a Seller Should Expect


by Roy D. Oppenheim

When it comes to choosing a title company, how much power exactly does a seller have?

Choosing the Title Company As Seller

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch – The Future of Legal Talent Looks Bright


by Justin Smulison

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch is launching its second edition in the United States, and after talking with both a company leader and esteemed lawyers on the list, the importance of this prestigious list is evident.

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America 2022

Announcing the 2022 "Best Law Firms" Rankings


by Best Lawyers

The 2022 “Best Law Firms” publication includes all “Law Firm of the Year” recipients, national and metro Tier 1 ranked firms and editorial from thought leaders in the legal industry.

The 2022 Best Law Firms Awards

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers in Canada™


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 16th Edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada™ and 1st Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Canada.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers in Canada™

Education by Trial: Cultivating Legal Expertise in the Courtroom


by Margo Pierce

The intricacies of complex lawsuits require extensive knowledge of the legal precedent. But they also demand a high level of skill in every discipline needed to succeed at trial, such as analyzing technical reports and deposing expert witnesses.

Cultivating Legal Expertise in the Courtroom

Announcing The Best Lawyers in France™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from France.

Blue, white and red strips

Caffeine Overload and DUI Tests


by Daniel Taylor

While it might come as a surprise, the over-consumption of caffeine could trigger a false positive on a breathalyzer test.

Can Caffeine Cause You to Fail DUI Test?

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Australia


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Australi

Wage and Overtime Laws for Truck Drivers


by Greg Mansell

For truck drivers nationwide, underpayment and overtime violations are just the beginning of a long list of problems. Below we explore the wages you are entitled to but may not be receiving.

Truck Driver Wage and Overtime Laws in the US

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Australia.

The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023

Georgia Laws Taking Effect in 2022


by Gregory Sirico

Three new pieces of Georgia legislation aim to improve medical bill transparency, lower the sales tax on vehicles and enact further safeguards to protect children in foster care.

New Georgia Laws Enacted in 2022